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The Lonely Sea: Collected Short Stories
Alistair MacLean
Her Benny
Silas K. Hocking
Vedere din Parfumerie
Silvia Kerim
Mysticism and Logic (Western Philosophy)
Bertrand Russell
The Analects of Confucious
Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
William James
Does Anything Eat Wasps?: And 101 Other Unsettling, Witty Answers to Questions You Never Thought You Wanted to Ask
New Scientists Books Staff, New Scientist
Mutual Aid
Pyotr Kropotkin
City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi
Olivia Fraser, William Dalrymple
The Brothers Karamazov
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


Iberia - James A. Michener, Robert Vavra He was probably in his 60s when he wrote most of this, travelling with his wife, but he writes a bit like a little boy, discovering rules and lists like an effervescent, naive American, or German-style logician. He says writing is hard for him, but he manages to write these tremendously long and simplistic books, possibly because he is so sequential and seldom cross-references or reduces facts. So yes, it is fascinating to learn second-hand that the famous cave paintings of bulls never depict a hunt or weapons. It was apparently love of the animals which inspired the paintings. And yes, Michener's descriptions of his resplendent picnics above Kabul and in a thick fog, telling personal ghost stories is very good. He's also a brave and strange man for running with bulls in his 60s, after being shamed by the sight of Hemingway's 72 year old mentor doing the same.

But this is a book to browse, not to read. His naivete touches on childish self-assurance. So when he's not relaying other people's basic impressions, he's expressing surprise that Spaniards know so much more than Americans, given that they know the population figures for the U.S. And following his wife's insistence, he declares La Rambla in Barcelona "probably the best promenade I have ever seen." More like the most overrated -- a former and current red-light district, exceptionally wide, where cars still pass back and forth.

I'll admit to jealousy about some of the sights which his fame and thoroughness lead him to visit. Maybe that's why I skipped the rest of his Barcelona and his long bull-fighting stories. Then again, he is so wedded to efficiency and fact, like his favourite bull-fighter, that his descriptions seem to depend on brief, childish superlatives, telling us their value on a scale of his own making, rather than showing us what he saw.

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